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Looking for Different Clicker Sounds

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From Pat Wolff:

I have several clickers from your store and they all sound almost exactly the same. This is a drawback for my family—we have trained our horses using these clickers and here is the problem: we go trail riding, using the clickers for reinforcing behaviors we want, but often when a click occurs more than one horse stops for its reward. When we are riding close, or side by side, how can anyone tell who clicked? I have sought out different clickers, but they are very hard to find and/or unreliable (break!). I switched to a different soundmaker, a squeaky toy rubber ducky ("Why do you have a rubber ducky tied to your belt?" is an interesting, if somewhat embarressing, way to proselytize for operant conditioning), but the squeak is different each time and so it doesn't work as well.

Question: do you have different sounding clickers for sale? If not, has anyone found a way to modify them to sound individually different without destroying them?

Dear Pat,

You can muffle or change the clicker by putting tape on the dimple, or by drilling a hole in the metal; but you don't really need different-sounding clickers! You need extra marker signals!

You can use the word "Good," or the horse's name, or both; pair it with the clicker, around the barn or out in the ring, followed by a treat, a few times. Then use the word without the click, but give the treat. When the horse is alerted by the word 'Good" and expects a treat, start using it from the saddle. When the horse stops when he hears the magic word, he's got it, and you can take it on the road, literally. The other horses on the trail will know it was not their rider who spoke.

If you want to take this a step further, pick a particular touch or move you can make easily in the saddle—a pat on the neck, or a little bounce in the saddle, maybe?—and make THAT the 'click' for all the trail horses, by following the above procedure for transferring the click or the word to the touch or move. The other horses will have no idea when one of them got clicked.

Or, as with dogs in dog class, you can just let them find out that only their own rider's click matters—they might expect a treat for a while from any click, but if they don't get one, they'll learn to focus on their own person.

You might also try using the Clicker+ , which is ideal for training multiple animals.

Karen Pryor

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